Sermon on February 19 by Pastor Roland Eskinazi
Scripture: Revelation 2:8-11
The church at Smyrna is one of two churches that Jesus commends without rebuke. Is suffering really a mark of a good church?
If we would be faithful to the end:
1. KNOW CHRIST! (v8)
- Jesus is fully reigning over what we don’t know
Jesus is not some ‘king-in- waiting’ but is sovereign – even over what confuses us.
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’ …without His direct activity creation itself would self-destruct.” (Abraham Kuyper, 24th Prime Minister of the Netherlands)
- Jesus is totally relevant for what we do know
2. KNOW THAT CHRIST KNOWS! (v9)
- Jesus knows what pressure is squeezing you
The more persecution squeezes the church, the more gospel wine will be produced. Are you being squeezed?
‘But He knows the way I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold’. (Job 23:10)
- Jesus may allow the poverty that is crushing you
The prosperity gospel (you will be always healthy and wealthy) was unheard of at Smyrna.
God will teach us the secret of being content, whether we have much or very little (Phil. 4:11) for this proves what we treasure most.
3. KNOW WHAT IS WAITING AHEAD! (v10 -11)
- Hold on – it will get worse before it gets better
When we do well in suffering, the Lord may give us even more to prove our faith.
- Keep on – Jesus’ crown guarantees yours
Trials are never easy – but more frightening than any crisis is the church that never goes through trials.
Remember! If as a church we are going to be useful to Jesus, we must embrace the cross as well as the resurrection.
‘Fourscore and six years have I served him, and he has never done me injury; how then can I now blaspheme my King and Savior?”
(Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna as he was burned at the stake, 155 AD)
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QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
- What place did Jesus have in the life of the church at Smyrna? The first? Or the last? What did they need to know about Jesus to make sense of their suffering?
- Give some examples of those who suffered for being loyal to God in the Bible? What might some of the consequences be for a church today that i) will not go with the state on every issue, and ii) will insist on putting Christ’s will over human legislation that contradicts this?
- Would the church at Smyrna embrace the prosperity gospel that many teach today? Is having little, or battling with health not from God? Back up your answer from Scripture.
- Pray for brothers and sisters in countries where it costs everything to stay faithful to Jesus. Pray for our own church that we may stay faithful to the gospel, not compromising Christ in any way as we live for Him.